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There are literally hundreds of biotech and pharmaceutical companies currently working around the clock to develop possible solutions to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. With the prospect of a vaccine still many months away, focus has switched to those companies that are working on other solutions that could assist with treatment.

Here in the UK Synairgen has been attracting plenty of investor attention as it works to deploy an inhaled formulation that is designed to assist with lower respiratory tract inflammation. It has already received approval from the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the Health Research Authority to start trialling its SNG001 formula with patients that already have COVID-19.

Synairgen is working with a naturally occurring protein called interferon beta (IFN) which could be able to help patients who have severe heart and lung conditions resist the virus. Other coronaviruses have shown that they can suppress IFN-beta production in human lungs, making it harder for the body’s immune system to cope with the virus.

Synairgen wants to use an inhaler approach to delivery of the drug to the patient’s lungs. It has already been demonstrated to work with improving lung function in asthma sufferers who are also inflicted with another virus that can inflame their lungs. It has also been shown to work with sufferers of multiple sclerosis.

Synairgen is entering a pilot phase with 100 sufferers from COVID-19 across a number of different NHS trusts in the UK. The trial is being financed via a £14 million private placement which was oversubscribed.

Success with the trial will still require that the drug is scaled up to meet demands but it could play a very important role in saving lives and getting vulnerable patients off respirators.

The trial has been creating a lot of investor attention with the private placement just part of the enthusiasm with which the company’s efforts are being backed. Synairgen shares are up from around GBX 6.17 at the start of the year to a staggering 62.00 at time or writing.

“A successful outcome from the trial would be a major breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus and a significant value enhancing event for Synairgen and our shareholders,” said the firm’s CEO Richard Marsden upon the closure of the private placement at the end of last month.

Synairgen’s treatment represents an excellent way for drugs companies to adapt solutions they were already working on to meet the COVID-19 challenge. Unlike a vaccine, this is something that could be deployed earlier if the manufacturing facilities are available, and the trials are deemed to be successful of course.

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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

Stuart Fieldhouse

Stuart Fieldhouse

Stuart Fieldhouse has spent 25 years in journalism and marketing, including as a wealth management editor for the Financial Times group, covering capital markets and international private banking, and as an investment banking correspondent for Euromoney in Hong Kong. He was the founder editor of The Hedge Fund Journal.

Stuart has worked at CMC Markets, supporting the re-launch of its global financial spread betting and CFD trading platforms. He is also the author of two books on trading, published by Financial Times Pearson. Based in The Armchair Trader’s London office, Stuart continues to advise fund managers, private banks, family offices and other financial institutions.

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